37. The First Mistake
“You did well,” the Mistress cooed in his ear. The Rabbit felt his heart falter a little. Even now the woman had power over him. He clutched the dagger tighter, wanting nothing more than to drive it through her chest. But, of course, that was impossible.
“Thank you, my Lady. Your words warm me.” Formal speech, awkward on his tongue. But the Rabbit refused to waste his talents on this woman. His words were meant for young ears, for the beautiful, the strong, the rich and famous and deadly. His words were power, and he would give none of it to his mistress.
Not that she needed any of it.
“And, what we discussed earlier? You carried out… the negotiations? They know what they must do?”
Of course, you half-wit, he wanted so badly to say. Some of us are in possession of at least a few brain cells beyond those necessary for daily bodily functions and sex. “Of course, Mistress. I live only to serve you, after all.”
“Perfect.” She drew back and the Rabbit breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. She wouldn’t have noticed the difference, of course, but her proximity had made him quite tense. The Rabbit hated being close to anyone. “Now I need you to go back to them, and undo it. That imbecile botched it. Tera was supposed to be the one taken, not Vier!”
And you wear your heart on your sleeve. Although, that is fitting indeed, all things considered.
The Rabbit was glad that Tera had escaped, that she could still hunt him. He’d watched her turn the possibilities over in her head, watched her watch him, watch everyone. And it was quite amusing. Such simple thoughts she had, this little girl-who-claimed-to-be-Tera.
“I apologize, my Lady. I am unable to complete this task.”
His mistress wore her surprise openly. Or at least, it was open for the White Rabbit to read. Then again, he was very good at reading people. Perhaps it would be well hidden, had anyone else been consulted on the matter. “And why, pray tell, do you refuse me?”
“I am truly sorry, Mistress. As per your previous instructions, I have cut all ties with them. I cannot contact them now, even if I want to. There is nothing I can do at present. I shall work,” he added, seeing the way her face clouded. No need for him to earn a knife through his back. “That is, I shall attempt to reestablish communications as soon as possible.”
“You had better hurry, Rabbit.” The woman smiled that cold smile of hers, and the White Rabbit felt a pang of fear – not something he was used to. “Because you are late.”
And the Rabbit knew then that he had made a mistake. What it was, he couldn’t tell, but it must have occurred.
And he started looking over his shoulder, ready for that knife in the dark, that knife stamped Failure.